Usually, the slippery slope argument is in itself a slippery slope - too slick for logic to gain traction - but it turns out the use of replay in sports is the equivalent of a water slide greased with baby oil.
I have always been an advocate of major sports using replays to get calls right. Why should millions of fans watching television have a better idea of what the correct call is than the people adjudicating the game in person? That never made sense.
It turns out replay is like most modern technologies: Wonderful in theory, and excuse me while I smash the phone that just autocorrected ``Bridgewater’’ to ``Brides Wedding.’’
Replay should exist to correct obviously wrong calls. It worked beautifully during the World Series, when David Wright’s deft tag brushed Alex Gordon’s helmet as he slid into third base. It was a difficult call that the umpire got wrong. Replay made a simple correction that left noone with a rational complaint.
Last weekend, that simple concept - identify a questionable call and correct it with replay - faced its worst-case eventuality.
The University of Miami football team concocted a desperate kickoff return strategy, throwing laterals all over the field, eventually breaking free and scoring a winning touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.
The problem with these plays in general is they force officials to sprint all over the field. The problem with this play specifically is that a Miami ballcarrier may have touched his knee to the ground, and there were at least two blocks that could have been ruled illegal.
Officials missing calls is about as rare as slow Wifi. What made this play unique is the question is raised:
If you can use replay to correct missed calls, and a game-winning play can be ruled illegal after the fact, should officials and their bosses be willing to overturn the outcome of a game?
To apply the question even more specifically to the Miami game, should officials be able to overturn the outcome of a game on the basis of what is considered a judgement call?
Yes, the officials could have called a block in the back once or twice during the Miami return. They could also call holding or illegal blocks on virtually every play ever run in any football game at any level, and we usually wish they wouldn’t.
It’s one thing to use replay to get an obviously wrong call right. It’s another to begin parsing every important play for calls that might have been.
I am in favor of reviewing non-judgement calls - whether a pass was dropped, whether a player’s knee was down before he fumbled. I am not in favor of the slip-and-slide slope of reviewing whether officials missed penalties.
There are just too many penalties, called and uncalled, in football. The only way to ruin football faster than throwing a bunch of flags is beginning to review whether the flags should have been thrown.
New at MalePatternPodcasts.com: Jon Krawczynski on hoops, Viking Update's Tim Yotter on the Purple, Michael Russo on hockey and my chat with St.Louis radio personality Bernie Miklasz on the Rams, Vikings, Blues and Cardinals.
We'll have a new episode on baseball with Roy Smalley soon, too.